Kola Karim is the Group Managing Director/CEO Shoreline Energy International Ltd, one of the leading energy conglomerates within Africa. In addition to his role at Shoreline Energy International, Mr. Karim is the current Chairman serving as director within numerous companies. He is an Africa Advisory board member of the London Stock Exchange and the Advisory board member of the Centre for African Studies at Harvard University. The oil magnate is also listed as one of the 10 most powerful men within Africa.
With his vast fortune, he has built an exceptional art collection that he hopes will elevate the growing artistic scene within Africa, helping fuel the rise in talented African artists.
Kola’s own personal taste tends to be motivated by his passion to enrich African culture and heritage. Sartch spoke to the Shoreline Energy Chairman & CEO to find out more about his vision, gain insight into his art collection and what inspires him to delve into the artworld.
You are a tremendously accomplished collector of Nigerian focused African art. It’s a genre that occupies a central position of art in Africa. Although growing, it is still not very well understood in the European and American art markets. Can you tell me how you began and what inspired you to collect?
There isn’t a real reason for this.I simply admired the talent that was coming from African artists. The fact their artworks connected with me was enough. At the time I started collecting, the African art scene was almost non-existent. We had a few known artists but nothing like the representation that you see today. I knew eventually it would grow and the works would get better, as young artists continue to study and take inspiration from great artists from the west. You could say I wanted to be a part of this movement, adding to their growth by collecting works that represented our heritage. I always knew that this would help establish international dialogue and represent Africa in a different light.
What would you say is the most prized piece within your collection? Is there any artists you currently have an eye out for?
I have collected numerous artists with extraordinary talent whose works have captivated me. It is difficult to isolate just one artist; for augments sake if I must pick I would choose a piece from the artist Tola Wewe. It is a striking piece of art that tells a new story of emotions each time I look at it. It creates conversations and to me it symbolises how far Nigeria has come. I am also interested in new emerging artists who have captured my eye from the artworks they are producing. Such as Godwin Adesoye and Yusuf Oladotun. The talent these artists are able to produce is sublime and I have been a fan ever since. I have monumental works from each artist. I know they will do remarkable things in the years to come.
We have heard speculation of the various challenges collectors face. Especially when running multinational businesses on top of keeping up with their ever–demanding lifestyles. What do you do to overcome this?
It is always a challenge maintaining a healthy work life balance at the helm of an international business that continues to grow. The work never stops. Nor does the social aspects of my life. Whether its attending a wedding or a polo match, each is just as important. I overcome this by having a great team around me to delegate the workload. Giving me time to focus on other factors in my life. Art being one of them. It has always been a keen interest of mine to keep up to date with news and new developments outside my industry. I am always researching and gathering key information within the artworld.
What advice would you give to those who wish to start collecting, especially for collectors who wish to explore the growing trend of African art.
I would give the same advice to a new collector that an art patronage gave to my younger self. Start small, educate yourself before diving in. Ask friends who are collectors and most importantly enjoy it. These are the most important points to anyone wishing to become a collector regardless of the type of art. Especially a collector that is successful.
In the art business, it is noted how slow the elite of industries such as tech have become collectors of art. Especially compared to other fields like finance and energy where there is a more traditional view of art-collecting and patronage. Of all the different causes you could fund, why art?
Art is a reflection of culture and heritage. It speaks stories of history that is able to connect the viewer with the artists beliefs, in addition to the message they wished to display. Art for me is not just about collecting or just an investment. When I buy a piece of artwork I am contributing to our culture. Helping to elevate the artists who are creating marvellous pieces that represent the evolving artistic and cultural environment of Africa.
You can find Tola Wewe and Godwin Adesoye works at www.sartch.com.